I once had a local editor tell me that he always received, and rejected, stories about the evil ex spouse or ex boy/girlfriend. This is mine. Rejected so far but I am hopeful.
A Momentary Disturbance of Air
by David H Weinberger
She lives deep in a year-round snow-covered valley. There is never enough sun to melt the winter’s snow. Tall trees and snow surround her small, dilapidated house. Animals from the surrounding woods-deer, raccoons, moose, and rodents of various sizes-are constantly foraging in her yard, burrowing through the snow in search of any morsel to eat.
Neither the snow nor the animals stop her from leaving her house. She works full-time in the nearby city. A short drive through the snow covered valley, followed by a shorter drive down the busy freeway, and she is in the sunshine and greenery of the small suburban city. She is a sales representative at a small herbal supplement company. She has an innate knowledge of herbs and their medicinal and restorative powers, perhaps magical powers too, and hence is constantly awarded for her high sales volume.
After work, before returning to her snowbound oasis, she heads to the local bars to mingle with friends, drink to abandonment, and perhaps catch a lucky man to spend the evening or more with. Her standby drink is vodka: shots, vodka tonic, Cape Cods, Russians, pretty much in whatever way you can mix vodka. Top shelf of course. She drinks and dances. And talks. To friends or to potential partners. She slurs her words of affection through mists of vodka. And while she wins awards at work for her sales acumen, at the bars she wins awards through the acquisition of men. With a little vodka on her side, she has no problem securing men. Most often, she takes them back to her snow-laden abode and shows them the passion they have been talking about over drinks and dancing. Most of the men desire to stay afterwards, but she always sends them away. Almost always.
It is not unknown to have a man get caught up in her world. So caught up that he cannot leave and she allows him to stay. Such was the situation Mitchell found himself in not long ago.
They met at Gravitational Pull in the city. She was drinking her vodka and he was drinking his red wine. The usual, for her, took place. She approached him, spoke to him, bought him a drink, and then danced with him. Mitchell cannot remember what she said but he remembers that it sounded good and peaked his interest in her. So he bought another round and they danced some more. It all unfurled as she planned, and they ended up in the snow-covered valley drinking vodka shots and fucking into the morning.
This time, for whatever reason, she did not send him away. They stayed in her house for the weekend and when Monday night came she invited him for dinner. Mitchell didn’t know of her past, her identity. He liked her and thought dinner would be a good way to get to know her better. They ate steaks and ended the evening playing Scrabble and drinking vodka sodas. He stayed the night and it was in the air that he would be staying the night more often. Mitchell did not quite know how it happened but he found himself in a relationship with her.
One month on. He is living at the house in the snow-covered valley. The sex is either passionate or ambiguous. It always used to be passionate. But now he senses a disconnect between them. As if her words of affection fail to match her acts of affection. And she has become cruel. Taunting him, finding fault. She has again been visiting the bars after work. She comes home very late. He thinks nothing of it. Instead, he thinks she is overworked, needs to relax, unwind.
Two months on. The Scrabble board sits between them. Random words adding up to nothing. Mitchell thinks their lives are a Scrabble game. They build word upon word yet the interconnectedness between the words remains a mystery. The vodka, which he is now drinking, helps make connections. Helps to make the meaninglessness less obtrusive. Yet with each play, she speaks affectionately, playfully. As if each word were just another blank slate laid upon a barren board. No points, no scores. But she always scores. She is continually racking up points.
She plays as if she were leading the game. In spite of the real score. She plays as if she determines who wins, who loses. She knows the real score can change in an instant. And it can be manipulated. A fake play. A set up. Someone falls for the deception and points are earned. At least, secreted away for a later date. Don’t use all the points up front. Mitchell is leery of playing Scrabble with her.
She talks to Mitchell. Perhaps I can be of service. Perhaps I can belie your fears. It’s just me. I’m here to help along the way. Her salvo. Her constant refrain. Words of affection. Mists of vodka.
No, Mitchell thinks. Fears are all I have. Don’t rid me of them. They are the only base I have with reality. With the truth that seems too distant to be mine.
Three months on. Mitchell can no longer tell when the words have meaning or are just a disturbance of air. She is saying things for the sake of saying them. Mitchell is taken along. He listens and believes the words he hears though the subtle smell of vodka tickles his senses and puts him on alert. The small intrigue in the mystery of the words. To go along or follow his intellect. He goes along and she speaks further. Enough to keep Mitchell listening to what follows. She speaks of the future. Buying a house. Raising kids together. But her words betray her feelings. She sees no future. Sees no together. Mitchell does. Mitchell acts as if they both do.
Four months on. She speaks as if her words were ordained. She speaks as if anyone would believe the truth of what she says. And she says plenty. Mitchell wonders what she is saying. She is saying, with her endless smile, that they should hold on to what they have. But it is unclear to Mitchell what they have. He cannot hold what they have, cannot touch what they have. What do they have? Just her word that they are one. Her word that they are together. Yet she is distant and unreachable.
Five months on. She now speaks openly to Mitchell about men she has met at work or at the bars. She assures him they are just friends but there is a hint of untruth to what she says. Not quite a brick hitting him, perhaps a small pebble. Such is the distance he is willing to travel to believe her. She begins to spend more time away from home. He is alone in the house surrounded by snow. One night, when she comes home at three in the morning he confronts her about her doings and her honesty. She assures him of her love and devotion. She assures him that she is simply unwinding after stressful days. The air moves around her but Mitchell fails to understand the words being spoken. And he begins to question her honesty.
In the morning, there is one more rodent foraging in the snow-covered yard.